The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

erasing erasmus

Lest we forget our farming roots, the above portrait of the still-standing Erasmus Hall high school on Flatbush 'neath Church shows off its rural environs. To any of you who have peaked inside the gates of the currents Erasmus campus, you've seen the decaying original schoolhouse inside.

The Wall Street Journal reports that some funding has finally been pried loose to get some serious rehab going. It's not nearly enough, but it's a start. I just want to add my voice to the chorus of those saying...WTF? This is the second oldest continuously standing secondary school in the country. It doesn't get much more historic than this. Why isn't this a friggin' museum like Valley Forge or tourist attraction like the Corn Palace of South Dakota?

I mean, you could gather a bunch of wax mannequins of the historic alumni - set them at tables in incongruous groupings. I know you've already heard about some of celebrated Erasmus graduates, but it's impressive when you look at a big ol' list, this one cherry-picked by yours truly.

1. Mae West, whip smart vamp from film's gilded age
2. Dick Powell, screen actor whose name was Dick Powell
3. Janelle Commissiong, 1977 Miss Universe
4. Barbara Stanwyck, actress (Double Indemnity!)
5. Elia Kazan, author, stage and screen director
6. Donnie Most, "Ralph Malph" on Happy Days
7. Bernard Malamud, writerman
8. Eli Wallach, stage and screen actor
9. Jeff Chandler, screen actor - played "Cochise"
10. Susan Hayward, screen actress
11. Beverly Sills, opera singer - Lincoln Center maven
12. Robert Silverberg, author
13. Lainie Kazan, singer and entertainer
14. Neil Diamond, singer and entertainer par excellence
15. Barbra Streisand, singer and actress and butt end of many a joke
16. Bobby Fischer, chess champion and acclaimed weirdo
17. Gabriel Kaplan, Mr. KotTAIR, Welcome Back Kotter
18. Special Ed, Rapper
19. Marky Ramone, totally awesome drummer for the Ramones
20. Samuel LeFrak, Master of the weird real estate development
21. Hal Lefkovitz, Inventor of the "Clapper" lighting on/off device
22. Bernie Kopell, "Doc" on the Love Boat
23. Al Davis, Owner of the infamous Oakland Raiders
24. Clive Davis, Mr. Arista records and star-picker deluxe

Some potential tableaux: "Doc" and Special Ed sharing a Courvoisier. Marky Ramone jamming with Neil Diamond. Bobby Fischer playing Mr. Kotter in a game of checkers. Barbra Streisand. I said, Barbra Streisand.


Anonymous said...

Flatbush WILL rise again...mark my word.

Anonymous said...

Not only did the school produce a lot of famous people, a lot of famous people were involved in its founding. "It was built in 1787 on land donated by the Dutch Reformed Church with funds contributed by Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, John Jay, and others."

Just up the street, of course, is the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Flatbush. Centuries old Dutch church and graveyard.
"The first building on the site was constructed around 1654-1662, complete with stockade fence to protect the Dutch from marauding Indians, but the building seen today was completed in 1796. The graveyard is filled with crumbling gravestones inscribed in Dutch. Author H.P. Lovecraft collected a piece of one of these gravestones during a visit here on September 16, 1922, and was inspired to write his short story "The Hound" by the visit. The church retains its original bell, which has rung for the funerals of every U.S. president and vice president since George Washington. American Revolutionary War soldiers who died in the Battle of Brooklyn are buried underneath the building. The church houses several original Tiffany stained glass windows."

Anonymous said...

Other graduates:

Moe Howard
Micky Spillane
The R&B group D. Train, named when the D ran on what is now the Q line.
Stephanie Mills

Anonymous said...

my dad went there too!

Brenda from Flatbush said...

It is simply mind-boggling that this treasure has been allowed to rot away instead of serving as the centerpiece for the school's pride and revival. Tells me everything I need to know about the Education bureacracy.